Peas beat the heat

Tasmanian Country - - FRONT PAGE - KAROLIN MacGREGOR

THEY are a favourite on many Aus­tralian din­ner plates and har­vest­ing of the coun­try’s only home­grown frozen peas is now in full swing in Tas­ma­nia.

Veg­etable pro­ducer Sim­plot has six har­vesters work­ing 24 hours a day, seven days a week on farms across the north.

The har­vest is about 60 per cent com­plete and should be wrapped up by the first week of Fe­bru­ary.

With a har­vest­ing win­dow of only about two days for top qual­ity peas, Sim­plot Agri­cul­tural man­ager Les Mur­doch said tim­ing is ev­ery­thing.

“It’s very much a jug­gling act be­cause peas are so time sen­si­tive, it’s a real team ef­fort,” he said.

“Ev­ery­thing has to be co-or­di­nated right from the field staff out in the pad­dock test­ing the peas, through to the har­vesters and trans­porters right down to the fac­tory. ”

While it only lasts for about 2 ½ months, be­cause of the state’s cool cli­mate, Tas­ma­nia has one of the long­est pea har­vest­ing sea­sons in the world.

Sim­plot works with about 122 pea grow­ers stretch­ing from Boat Har­bour right through to the North­ern Mid­lands.

All the crops are planted in a sched­ule which is aimed at spac­ing out the har­vest­ing sched­ule.

How­ever be­cause the pea crops can ma­ture very quickly in hot weather, Mr Mur­doch said they are con­stantly as­sess­ing the sit­u­a­tion.

When hot weather hits, it is some­times nec­es­sary for some crops to be left un­har­vested be­cause the peas be­come too firm.

Grow­ers whose crops are by­passed are com­pen­sated through a scheme which is funded in equal amounts through a grower levy and by the com­pany.

If a grower does not have their crop har­vested, they can then use it for stock feed or silage.

“When we know there’s hot weather com­ing up what we’ll do it try to get as much har­vested as pos­si­ble and get into the younger peas so it gives us a bit of a win­dow,” Mr Mur­doch said.

“When it comes to by­pass­ing crops we’re com­mu­ni­cat­ing all the time with the grower group chair­man so ev­ery­one knows what's go­ing on.”

Mr Mur­doch said to main­tain premium qual­ity, it is vi­tal that all the peas are pro­cessed and frozen within few hours of har­vest.

This year the com­pany will har­vest a bit over 25,000 tonnes of peas.

At peak pro­duc­tion the fac­tory at Sprey­ton can process about 550 tonnes of peas a day.

Im­prov­ing yields is some­thing the com­pany works with grow­ers to achieve.

Crops this year are av­er­ag­ing about 7.4 tonnes a hectare, how­ever Mr Mur­doch said top crops can pro­duce be­tween 9-10 tonnes a hectare.

Once the pea har­vest is com­peted, the com­pany will then fo­cus on the green bean crop, be­fore har­vest­ing other veg­eta­bles in­clud­ing car­rots and broc­coli.

Pic­ture: CHRIS KIDD

TEAM EF­FORT: Pea har­vesters at work at Cressy this week.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.